Stakeholder bid to save Darley centre

Volunteers who have provided vital support to Darley Birth Centre have registered as stakeholders in a bid to keep the unit open.

Matlock Hospitals League of Friends has supported maternity services for the Dales since it was formed in 1967.

Over the years the group has raised thousands of pounds for the midwife-run centre in Darley Dale – and now says that money must not be wasted.

Pam Wildgoose, who has been secretary since the league formed, has this week written a letter to Dr David Black, director of public health at Derbyshire County PCT.

She states: “When Darley Maternity Home closed in the 1980s the League worked with North Derbyshire Health Authority to build the new extension at the unit.

“Finance has been supplied to add an extra shower room, to alter rooms as need required, to help with furnishing and equipment and most recently to install a birthing pool. The local population have a financial stake in the centre.”

The League also worked with the MOMS (Maintain Our Maternity Services) to re-open the birth centre when it was closed five years ago and money was spent to upgrade the facilities.

Mrs Wildgoose has also questioned the ‘engagement’ process – instead of consultation – because people will not be asked if they want the unit to stay open or not.

Board papers from last month’s meeting of the NHS Derby City and NHS Derbyshire County cluster, when the trust agreed to go ahead with a formal engagement process, said: “This will not be a consultation, as stakeholders and the public will not be asked whether or not the centres should remain open.

“The process is to ascertain views, concerns and alternative suggestions to inform the final decision.”

The trust said the questions are being refined to ensure they ask people what they value about the services and what their concerns would be if the centre were to close.

But Mrs Wildgoose added: “This completely removes “patient choice” which is a main pivot of the Government’s pre-occupation and initiatives for the NHS.”

At a meeting in Matlock on Monday, town councillors pledged support for the birth centre.

The council has been asked for feed back on proposals to close the unit.

Sue Burfoot said: “I think the Hospital’s League of Friends has every right to be a bit annoyed about this after all the money they have put in.

“Are they going to spend that money some where else? That is public money.”

Cllr Geoff Stevens added: “A lot of people have spent a lot of time and money and I think it is totally wrong that we should be in this position again. It seems to me very often that rural areas suffer.”

The Mercury’s Don’t Ditch Darley campaign has been gathering pace this week.

Staff at Mind charity shop, in Firs Parade, collected three A4 pages of signatures in just two days and our Don’t Ditch Darley coupons (below) have been flooding in to the office. The petition can also be signed at businesses across the town.

n Let us know what you think of Darley Birth Centre. Contact us by emailing news@matlockmercury.co.uk log on to www.matlockmercury.co.uk or leave your comments on our Facebook page.